January 11, 2018 0

Power, Anxiety and the Need for Control

Posted by:Janet Neal onJanuary 11, 2018

Part of the reason I like to hit the snooze button in the morning is the feeling of power over this “thing”: I’m not starting my day being told what to do. The other reasons are that morning sleep seems so much more satisfying, and my bed is especially cozy then.

But mostly it’s that control issue.

If I’m honest, I can admit that the desire on my part to be in control is really a sprinkling of the thrill of power over a large dose of anxiety. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling to me to be unsure of my surroundings and I don’t do well with uncomfortable feelings! I’ve spent a lot of time trying to unearth what’s behind all that, but suffice it to say that the way out of the mess comes down to two concepts: Awareness and Acceptance.

When I am feeling uncomfortable – whether that is due to anxiety or anger or something else – the first thing that I do is acknowledge it. For years I was one of those people who couldn’t put my finger on what I was feeling because I spent a lifetime stuffing the uncomfortable ones immediately away. Now, just being aware that I am feeling something in the moment is a big step. Being able to name it is huge. And then, being able to identify the source of the feeling is the icing on the cake. To be aware that this need for control is really because I am anxious and that the anxiety is caused by my inability to accept a situation at hand – that is gold. This awareness then leads to the next step: Acceptance.

Acceptance is not being a door mat or rolling over. It is acknowledgment of what is and using it as a starting point for change. It is saying, “Oh, yes, I am feeling anxious about this situation and I realize I may be powerless to change it in this moment.” It is then taking it to the next step, which is to say “What CAN I change in this moment?” Being able to accept the “what is” is the jumping off point to what will be. Often times it is as simple as releasing the need to be one in control and trusting that there is a better way out, a new perspective to be used, or a learning and growth to be embraced. Taking this step moves me from fear, anxiety and powerlessness to a place where I can take effective action.

I’m not saying I’m going to give up that snooze button anytime soon. But when I slam it down, I’m doing it fully aware of my actions and its consequences. My choice – just the way I like it!

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